Pope Francis issues hard-hitting encyclical ahead of COP28

Pope Francis I  has released a new Apostolic Exhortation, named Laudate Deum – meaning ‘Praise God’  – in which he addresses the climate crisis an calls for action at the forthcoming COP28 conference

Laudate Deum is the third encyclical issued by the Pope on this subject, following Lumen fidei (The Light of Faith) in 2013 and Laudato si’ (Praise Be to You) in 2015.

Pope Francis

An encyclical is a letter from the Pope to Roman Catholic bishops, often about the Church’s official opinion on a subject. This series have carried the subtitle ‘on care for our common home’ and has consistently attacked consumerism and called upon governments to act against global warming.

In the latest, published today Pope Francis begins by saying: ‘Eight years have passed since I published the Encyclical Letter Laudato si’, when I wanted to share with all of you, my brothers and sisters of our suffering planet, my heartfelt concerns about the care of our common home. Yet, with the passage of time, I have realised that our responses have not been adequate.’

The first subject he addresses is the Climate Crisis and his first target is climate denial: ‘Some have chosen to deride these facts. They bring up allegedly solid scientific data, like the fact that the planet has always had, and will have, periods of cooling and warming. They forget to mention another relevant datum: that what we are presently experiencing is an unusual acceleration of warming, at such a speed that it will take only one generation – not centuries or millennia – in order to verify it.’

He emphasises the absolute certainty that the climate crisis is driven by man, using scientific measurements and concluding: ‘I feel obliged to make these clarifications, which may appear obvious, because of certain dismissive and scarcely reasonable opinions that I encounter, even within the Catholic Church.’

Talking of his hopes for COP28, he says: ‘Despite the many negotiations and agreements, global emissions continue to increase. Certainly, it could be said that, without those agreements, they would have increased even more. Still, in other themes related to the environment, when there was a will, very significant results were obtained, as was the case with the protection of the ozone layer. Yet, the necessary transition towards clean energy sources such as wind and solar energy, and the abandonment of fossil fuels, is not progressing at the necessary speed. Consequently, whatever is being done risks being seen only as a ploy to distract attention.

‘We risk remaining trapped in the mindset of pasting and papering over cracks, while beneath the surface there is a continuing deterioration to which we continue to contribute. To suppose that all problems in the future will be able to be solved by new technical interventions is a form of homicidal pragmatism, like pushing a snowball down a hill.

‘If there is sincere interest in making COP28 a historic event that honours and ennobles us as human beings, then one can only hope for binding forms of energy transition that meet three conditions: that they be efficient, obligatory and readily monitored. This, in order to achieve the beginning of a new process marked by three requirements: that it be drastic, intense and count on the commitment of all. That is not what has happened so far.’




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